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The Rating Game

In the Aug. 27, 2001 issue, Sports Illustrated invites readers to belly up to bar and debate its writers, who have dug deep to uncover the most overrated people, places and things in sports -- and celebrate the most underrated ones. Dozens of categories are featured in the magazine -- on newsstands now -- but CNNSI.com is extending an invitation of its own to its users: comment on the writers' choices for some of the selections most worthy of debate.

Catcher
Overrated
 
Underrated
Carlton Fisk Carlton Fisk

Kiss has been around for 30 years, but is it the greatest rock group of all time? Jodie Foster has been acting since childhood, but does she rank with Meryl Streep? The Whopper, 20/20, George Burns  -- all have their places in history. Can we do better? Definitely. Carlton Fisk was a major league catcher for 24 seasons.

His contemporaries included Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Thurman Munson, Lance Parrish and Ted Simmons. Sure, Fisk's career numbers (376 homers, 1,330 RBIs) are impressive, but don't confuse longevity with superstardom. From 1972 (his first All-Star season) to '91 (his last), Fisk averaged 19 home runs and 65 RBIs. Modern equivalent: Joe Randa.

-- Fisk and Simmons entries provided by Sports Illustrated senior writer Jeff Pearlman.

 
Ted Simmons Ted Simmons

O.K., O.K., Ted Simmons is no Hall of Famer, but why has the world forgotten a switch-hitting seven-time All-Star with 248 homers, 1,389 RBIs and a .285 lifetime average over 21 years, while some folks are in a tizzy because Gary Carter (324 homers, 1,225 RBIs, .262) isn't already in Cooperstown? Simmons was the perfect nurturing backstop for the St. Louis Cardinals' young pitching staffs of the late '70s -- he had "the pugnacity of the late Thurman Munson and the articulation of Carlton Fisk," wrote George Vecsey of The New York Times. In 1982, the year the Milwaukee Brewers shocked baseball by reaching the World Series, Simmons hit 23 homers and drove in 97 runs in only 137 games, and his .995 fielding percentage led all American League catchers. Yes, he was sort of workmanlike and rugged. But aren't those the very qualities we love in our catchers?

Heavyweight Champion
Overrated
 
Underrated
Muhammad Ali
 
Rocky Marciano
Tennis Player
Overrated
 
Underrated
Steffi Graf
 
Jack Kramer
Hall of Fame Pitcher
Overrated
 
Underrated
Nolan Ryan
 
Whitey Ford
Baseball Record
Overrated
 
Underrated
Cal Ripken's
2,632 consecutive games played

 
Joe DiMaggio's
56-game hitting streak

Julius Erving
Overrated
 
Underrated
The NBA Dr. J
 
The ABA Dr. J

Feedback
Think Jeff Pearlman's way off base on his choices behind the dish? Likewise, E.M Swift (Heavyweight Boxer and Hall of Fame Pitcher), Frank Deford (Tennis Player), Tom Verducci (Baseball Record) and Phil Taylor (Julius Erving)? Feel free to submit your own candidates or comment on those that appear above.
Your name:

Your e-mail address:

Your hometown:

Your candidate or comment:

Photographs by Walter Iooss Jr., Heinz Kluetmeier


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